Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Octavus Roy Cohen (1891-1959) was a popular author of 56 books and numerous plays and scripts.  His best-known character was Jim Hanvey, a sort of back-woods Nero Wolfe, who appeared in many stories in The Saturday Evening Post.  Time has treated neither Cohen nor Hanvey well;  most are relatively unknown today.

Jim Hanvey appeared in two films:  Curtain at Eight (1933), starring C. Aubrey Smith, and 1937's Jim Hanvey, Detective, starring Guy Kibbee.  Of the two, Kibbee was (IMHO) a more perfect Jim Hanvey.

Guy Kibbee began his career as an entertainer at age 13 on Mississippi river boats.  He had a long career on the stage before signing with Warner Brothers to become a recognizable and well-used character actor.  He had the title roles in Babbitt, Captain January, and the Scattergood Baines series, and had notable roles in 42nd Street, The Gold Diggers of 1933, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Rain, and Our Town.  He often played the bluff, hearty, and not very intelligent politician or businessman to perfection.  Guy Kibbee was one of those actors who could improve a film by his very presence.

Jim Hanvey has retired as a detective to his country farm and is more interested in quail hunting than taking a case.  A young couple steal a valuable emerald necklace as a joke but before the necklace could be returned it is stolen.  Insurance investigators and minor criminals are both after the necklace and the couple are in big trouble.  Enter Hanvey.  Getting the necklace was easy for him, but returning it is not since there's a body or two in the way.

Also brightening up the film is Catherine Doucet as a dim-witted matron from the Margaret Dumont school of acting.

Jim Hanvey, Detective is a witty, enjoyable bit of fluff that should be much better known.

The only copies of the film I could find online are truncated by about 18 minutes.  Still, at 53 minutes, you still get 53 minutes of enjoyment.

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